By Johanna Willett
The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet the “Boom Goddesses”, three women who are using their voices to encourage women 50 and older to not just live, but thrive.
The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
The founders of Tucson’s Boom Goddess Radio podcast are pretty sure Oprah Winfrey is copying them.
If they do a weekly podcast about friendship, the next issue of “O, The Oprah Magazine” deals with friendship.
The Boom Goddesses talk breast cancer; Oprah talks breast cancer.
“Is Oprah following us?” asks Barbara “BB” Peters, one of the show’s three founders.
The other two founders, Jennifer Davis-Paige and Andrea Gould-Marks, affirm it.
“She’s definitely one of our followers,” they quip.
The friends laugh at the thought.
Follower or not, Winfrey’s focus on topics dear to the hearts of the Boom Goddesses confirm their calling.
They want their podcast to encourage women 50 and older to not just live, but thrive.
Their name sums up the endeavor. “Boom” references the baby boomers, a generation who this year are ages 52 to 70. “Goddess” alludes to the Muses of Greek mythology and their affiliation with certain arts and sciences. And “podcast,” well, it’s a podcast.
“I always say I like to take the best out of the consultation room and share it out there, not in terms of names and faces, but the universal themes that keep recurring,” says Gould-Marks, who has had a private practice as a psychologist for 40 years and also does entrepreneurial coaching through her business Lucid Learning Systems.
The podcast answers the questions many of her clients ask: What am I going to do when my kids leave? What if my kids live far away? Or what if I get divorced at 73? What’s the experience of having a diagnosis all of a sudden, and what do I do with my aging parents?
“We really cover the waterfront of issues facing what we call prime time women,” she says.
Peters, a former CFO for architectural firm MG2, moved to Tucson from Seattle seven years ago with her husband. The “doldrums” of constant cloud cover and the invitation of a Tucson friend drew them south. She kept busy, founding Body and Sol Women’s Expo and working as the marketing director for the magazine “Natural Awakenings.”
Gould-Marks left Long Island for Tucson four-and-a-half years ago to finish her memoir about widowhood and reconnect with a lost love, now her husband. She brought her private practice with her.
For Davis-Paige, the move from Chicago came following retirement from her position as product development officer for Amtrak. In retirement, she, along with Peters, started a monthly gathering of the Network of Extraordinary Women. She also started the business Journeys By Train to organize group rail travel.
“I worked in corporate America, and corporate America said, ‘It’s time for you to go,'” Davis-Paige says of her retirement. “It wasn’t my decision … I would have still been there if they hadn’t pulled the plug. … It happened to be a good thing for me. I’m down here now repotting myself.”
Peters teases her friend at the metaphor.
“Repotting? The fact that she uses this word is crazy,” Peters laughs. “She has no plants alive in her house. Nothing. But she is repotting herself.”
It’s a good metaphor for the Boom Goddesses and their listeners — blooming in a new season of life.
The day Gould-Marks proposed what would later become Boom Goddess Radio, she did so out of frustration.
Sitting at the Network of Extraordinary Women’s monthly luncheon and listening to each woman describe moments of inspiration from previous months, Gould-Marks seethed, frustrated by what she saw as “distorted” media portrayals of human potential.
“I said, when it was my turn, ‘I haven’t been inspired. I’ve been more like de-spired, and what I really want to do is perspire because I’m agitated,'” she recalls.
She shared her dream to contribute to a TV or radio program “that would speak to human potential.”
And at the end of the lunch, Davis-Paige and Peters approached her.
“Us, too,” they said.
So began Boom Goddess Radio.
After that fateful September 2015 luncheon, the friends started brainstorming. And on March 8, 2016 — International Women’s Day — they began recording.
They float topic ideas before members of the 300-strong Network of Extraordinary Women.
“We’ve gone into the business of responding to personal kinds of issues like friendship and self-care and on the other hand, the chaos and crises…” Gould-Marks says. “Some issues we have tackled from the outside in, and the other ones from the inside out.”
“I’ll be here for you”
Davis-Paige’s birthday celebration early this year doubled as the launch party for the podcast, drawing around 100 revelers.
“I turned 70 in February kicking and screaming all the way…” Davis-Paige says. “When I was a young woman (advertisers) would send me wonderful advertisements on silk stockings and perfumes … and beautiful lingerie.
“And now that I’m 70, I’m still that same woman I was 50 years ago, when you were wooing me, Mr. Advertiser. But you know I’m 70, so what do you send me now? You send me compression stockings, you send me walkers, you send me burial insurance … You don’t think I want to smell good anymore?”
Gould-Marks and Peters don’t share their exact ages — somewhere in their 60s. All three are determined never to become “old women.”
“When asked my age, I say my brain and my body feel 30, but my wisdom is a little bit over 300, so I don’t accept age as a number,” Peters says.
Davis-Paige, the oldest of the trio, will be waiting.
“You will be 70, and I’ll be here for you,” she says.
Which is pretty much the point of the podcast.
“It has made me more aware of some problems I may not yet have faced but may face in the future,” says Flo Cohen, a 69-year-old friend of Davis-Paige’s now living in California. “It has made me aware that some of the issues that I am facing, I’m not alone … It’s something that I really enjoy, and I think there has been a need for it.”
The show invites women to share their own experiences on air, while also inviting experts to chime in.
“I think when women get over 50, we begin to feel less important and a little in the back seat to younger women…” says Pamela Ridgway, a friend of Peters’ and a teacher and coach for Marathon Health and Wellness in Tubac. “I’m 63, going to be 64 next year, and they’re talking to me, and I don’t feel so left out or invisible.”
Women with untold stories often seemed to find Davis-Paige during her career with Amtrak, slipping in beside her on train rides to reveal their secrets.
She wanted to give those mystery women voices.
“Women can call in and not give their real names and tell their stories, their own secrets,” Davis-Paige says. “It’s good for the heart and the soul … We’re not all that different, any of us. Everybody’s got a story. Every woman has a story.”
And while many listeners are high achievers, some find their 50s and 60s bringing crossroads and questions.
“One of the most fascinating things for us about doing the podcast is we really enrich our own lives because of it,” Peters says. “The ability of women to reinvent, it’s not a misnomer. This is the truth. Women reinvent.”
As they wrap up eight months of recording about 20 episodes, the Boom Goddesses are looking forward.
They see an application for nonprofit status in their future. Besides encouraging women to thrive, they also want to teach their demographic how to better connect with each other through technology — an often feared resource, Peters says.
Even building a podcast audience has been a challenge, as they educate future listeners on how to access their content. They recently celebrated more than 1,000 downloads of the podcast through SoundCloud.
“We can calmly and lovingly help women connect safely with the kinds of technology that are going to keep them connected…” Gould-Marks says. “They got into Classmates.com and spearheaded connection because they realized feeling young or feeling vital has to do with feeling connected.”
The Boom Goddesses also dream of getting the show syndicated and have meetings lined up for that purpose. The online boutique peddles headwear, clothing and bags stamped with the glitzy Boom Goddess Radio logo.
“It’ll grow into a Saks Fifth Avenue in a little while,” Davis-Paige says, triggering peals of laughter.
Because if nothing else, the Boom Goddesses dream big and laugh hard.
“The first month I was here, you know, you’re putting your house together, you’re looking out the window at the desert, and one day I said to myself, ‘Why are you here?’ I had one friend at this point,” Davis-Paige recalls.
“God must have brought me here for a reason, and I tell everyone these two are the reason, and Boom Goddess Radio is the reason. … It was meant to be.”